Assembly of First Nations Encourages First Nations and all Canadians to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples, Cultures, Rights and Contributions

OTTAWA, June 20, 2014 /CNW/ - In honour of National Aboriginal Day and National Aboriginal Awareness Month, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Executive Committee encourages all Canadians to take every opportunity to learn about Indigenous peoples, cultures and rights and to participate in events and celebrations this weekend, and to commit to a renewed relationship based on mutual respect, mutual recognition and the spirit and intent of the Treaties.

"National Aboriginal Day is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples in this country, learn more about their contributions, their rights and responsibilities and our shared history as a country," said AFN spokesperson and Regional Chief for Quebec/Labrador Ghislain Picard.  "It is time for First Nations and all Canadians to commit to a new understanding and a new relationship grounded in our history and focused on the future.  From this, we can work together to build a strong foundation to achieve positive change for all of us."

National Aboriginal Day was brought about in part by efforts and advocacy of the Assembly of First Nations beginning with a resolution in 1982 calling for a national holiday celebrating the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada to be celebrated annually on June 21. In December 2013, AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution calling for the Government of Canada to declare June 21 a National Holiday known as Indigenous Peoples Day.

"It is increasingly evident that First Nations are integral to Canada's history, prosperity and progress," said Regional Chief Picard.  "We are the youngest and fastest growing population in the country and our people are asserting their rights, title and the Treaties to revitalize their languages and cultures and to build stronger First Nations citizens, communities and governments.  We must support these efforts because strong First Nations make a stronger country for all of us. National Aboriginal Day is a time to share with one another, learn from one another, celebrate together and commit to a new era of respect, recognition and reconciliation."

The term "Aboriginal" refers to the three distinct Indigenous peoples in Canada: First Nations, Métis and Inuit.  In connection with the summer solstice, special events and gatherings take place across the country celebrating First Nation, Métis and Inuit contributions and accomplishments, cultures, traditions and languages.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca